Mar 23

man vs wild~for show or survival?

survival-425 In a recent article penned by Steven Gillman, the author discusses the merits & actions of TV star Bear Grylls. Here’s an excerpt of the article:

There are some who say that the star of the television program Man Vs. Wild, Bear Grylls, is a fraud. I am not one of them. I think he has a lot of skills and training. He probably can climb and swim better than most of us, and more easily chokes down scorpions and worms for food. But he also sets a terrible example in almost every program, doing things that nobody in a survival situation should do.

Click here to read the remainder of the article, Man vs Wild–Dangerous Advice? 

As the author’s article states, I too believe that Bear Grylls is very skilled in climbing, swimming, parachuting & is well trained in many areas. Many survival experts teach that in true survival situations, one of the worst actions one can take is knowingly putting oneself in a potentially injurious situation. Running around, looking for trees & mountains to climb isn’t the best thing to do when you’re concerned with staying alive. It looks good on TV, which is why I truly believe that Bear Grylls does these things. I have a hard time believing that if Bear Grylls was in a true survival situation, he would act as he does in the show Man vs Wild.

In today’s world of media & "reality TV," everything you see & read must be taken under serious consideration. The truth is, "reality TV" isn’t reality. Anything which is scripted or choreographed isn’t real, but rather staged. It’s commonly known that in Man vs Wild, Bear Grylls is performing for the camera. Cameramen & a director are on scene to film what Grylls is doing, most of which is rehearsed & planned.

In all fairness to Bear Grylls, he doesn’t claim to be a survival expert, nor does he state that you or I should do what he’s doing in a particular situation. Man vs Wild is entertainment. There are survival experts who are consulted during each episode that’s filmed, and certain precautions are always taken to ensure the safety of everyone involved. It would be plain foolish not to allow for safety lines or pfd vests in certain instances.

It should be noted that Grylls claims he was approached to do the show, not the other way around, and that he turned down the offer more than once. In an attempt to keep ratings rising, the producers must incorporate more excitement into the show. This means they must push the limits, and obviously, Grylls seems to go right along with that philosophy.

Many have compared Man vs Wild with the now ended Survivorman, a documentary style survival show hosted by Les Stroud. There really isn’t much comparison between the two. Stroud was alone & showed how to survive in certain situations, mostly by being stationary. He carried his own camera equipment. Grylls is the opposite, always moving & doing things which many believe are inappropriate to do in a survival situation. Stroud also made his share of mistakes, such as drinking contaminated water which contained parasites, and more than once he burned down his shelter. Yet I believe both Grylls & Stroud give good information.

Bottom line, Man vs Wild is entertainment, and should be viewed as such. Though I do enjoy watching the show, I’ve come to believe that Bear Grylls should at some point stop pushing himself to do the dangerous things he does. Other than good TV ratings, there really is no point in risking life & limb for simple entertainment. Anyone who’s truly interested in learning survival skills should consider taking survival-related courses from a professional instructor. Don’t base your knowledge solely upon what you read in a magazine or watch in a TV show.

~The Pilgrim.


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  1. Allan McDonald

    To my mind the key issue is whether the contrived activities in Man vs Wild are believed by youth as being true and they then attempt to copy his actions.

    As an adult I made an assessment of Man vs Wild being contrived and still choose to watch it for entertainment value and the show has loads of it.

    Are children equipped to make a similar assessment? Children are pretty perceptive and I believe they would make a similar assessment of the show. I watched Superman on TV as a kid but I also knew not to jump off the roof in an attempt to fly.

    The UK Scout Association saw something worthwhile in Grylls. In 2009 he was appointed as the youngest Chief Scout, gaining formal influence over thousands of UK Scouts. I expect the Scout Association saw Grylls as a positive roll model to youth, which I agree he is.

    I don’t think there is any doubting that Bear Grylls is a nice guy. He has the media exposure, and now a formal position as Chief Scout, to influence our youth in a most positive way. If Grylls can inspire our youth to get outside, enjoy and feel comfortable in the outdoors then I am sure the Scout Association would have achieved one of its objectives in appointing Grylls.

    I agree that people should not just rely on what they see on TV or read in magazines to learn about survival. Perhaps the best learning environment for youth is Scouting which offers a structured and fun pathway to learn about leadership, the outdoors, bushcraft and survival.

    Allan McDonald

  2. Pilgrim

    Allan, thanks for the comment. You make some good points. Helpful information can be learned through entertaining shows like Man vs. Wild, but it is entertainment. I agree that many people, adults & children, do perceive it as such.

  3. Tracy

    It is purely a show! But through this entertainment those who pay attention can learn a few things.

  4. Pilgrim

    Hi Tracy, thanks for the comment. I agree, it is just a show & there’s always something useful to learn. On the flip side, though I like the show & Bear Grylls, I don’t agree with some of his tactics. But it is just television. I appreciate you reading, thank you!

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